New CANDU 6 power plant achieves first sustained nuclear reaction

CHERNAVODA, ROMANIA - Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) announced that the new Cernavoda Unit 2 CANDU 6 nuclear power plant owned by Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) SA, Romania's nuclear public utility, sustained a fission reaction for the first time at approximately 11:25 p.m. local time on May 6. Plant Operators initiated procedures to activate the uranium fuel within the core of the reactor, which allowed the reaction to occur.

"This marks a major milestone towards commercial operation of Romania's newest CANDU 6 power plant," said AECL's Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Ken Petrunik. "We are now looking ahead to the next two major and final commissioning events - synchronization to Romania's power grid and achieving 100 per cent power later this summer."

A series of low power tests of the reactor's major components and operating systems will be conducted over the next several weeks before the reactor's power levels are increased in anticipation of full commercial operation.

The Cernavoda NPP Unit 2 project, located approximately 165 kilometres east of Bucharest, is the second in a series of 700-MWe CANDU 6 Power Plants that began construction in the early 1980's. Cernavoda Unit I CANDU nuclear power plant has been successfully operating since 1996. A consortium of AECL and ANSALDO Energie of Italy, along with the SNN, were contracted in 2003 to manage the construction of the partially completed Unit 2 power plant and to commission it into service.

Dr. Petrunik added, "We are very confident that Cernavoda 2 will perform to the same high standards recorded during the 10 years of operation of Unit 1 and contribute to the significant reduction of Greenhouse Gasses to the environment by producing clean and environmentally friendly power to Romania."

Dr. Teodor Chirica, CEO of Nuclearelectrica SA commented on the occasion by stating, "The second unit at Cernavoda represents an important contribution toward ensuring a clean and affordable energy source for Romania and the European Union. This will also significantly reduce our dependency on expensive energy resources from outside of Europe."


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